I wrote on one of my other blogs that I kindled yet another passion: Finnish urban shopping malls from the 1960-80s. Why?
Firstly, because the architecture: the original designs were practical, airy, light and the floor plan actually worked. And it would work even today, but these old ostarit are deteriorating, all decent (read: consumerist) establishments had left a long time ago.
Secondly, because they are now being overshadowed by those shopping malls hells where we (all of us) actually sometimes shop at and these little reminders of the past stay still and patiently wait for their destiny. Many have already been demolished and given way for high-rises and soulless cookie-cutter minimalls.
Thirdly, they attract a lot of marginalised groups of population (some common factors would be poverty, substance abuse or ethnic heritage) and marginal(ised) establishments (think third sector, second hands, speciality non-hipster stores).
After I have taken pictures of some, I will then start going behind the doors. Who knows, maybe even behind the closed ones.
Although there was this common recommendation not to travel to Lapland we… we decided to do it anyways. At the end of the day, we felt much safer in a cabin in the fells than in a flat in the capital region. Opportunities for meeting others were very limited and even more limited for those who injured their knees on the first day and were then unable to part-take in any decent winter activities.
Except from walking short distances and visiting a reindeer farm.
And yes, the (real) North remains what it has been for me since the first day I set my tired foot there (Kiruna, a.d. 2012). I have never been calmer and happier anywhere else. Maybe one day you will find me herding reindeer and spending evenings drinking black coffee and chewing on reindeer jerkies.
I admit this is – photography-wise – nothing overly original, after all these are basically cracks in the ice and some random snowy/shadowy arrangement, but I just wanted to take pictures of something that is not a toddler so bad…
Other than that, ice cracks mean that the spring is on its way. Finnish spring though, so dripping water, melting snow and more sunshine.
Apparently I posted nothing the whole seemingly-dead month. Sorry, my dear readers. It was a great winter month this year, cold and snowy, at times sunny and socially awkward. Here, enjoy some seemingly dead flowers and a not-so-seemingly-dad toddlers that I came across.
Is nearly over and it has been the best year of 2021 so far! I have been reasonably busy, partly buried in snow and enjoying those moments between Instagramable walks, fun outings and inspirational meetings. In fact, I met someone last week, and I think that this experience may change my life. The little one keeps amazing me – recently through being so independent and spending her first night without parents.
And then some really bizarre things happened to flowers and plants forgotten outside at the mercy of Finnish winter.
We have snow. In fact we have had snow for about a week now and it has been a gamechanger for the winter. Not only does this feel like a real winter now, but
everything becomes cleaner
everything sounds cleaner
everything feels cleaner
everything feels hopeful
there is suddenly more light everywhere
kids (and adults alike) get easily entertained outside
everything has a beautiful outline.
Yes, a beautiful, contrasting outline, giving all objects outside an extra dimension. Suddenly dark objects are visible in dark as well, and a fresh layer of snow changes the view outside into a 2D black-and-white block-print during those dimmed gray days (ahh). Of course I have no pictures of snow-covered anything just yet, instead, I’m waiting for that crisp new snow layer in order to get concrete images for the actual block-print.
So yeah, I just wanted to post about how pretty the outlines created by fresh snow are and I did not even post any actual photos of snow or related art material.
I will spare you from rambling: this year was exceptionally… warm. Grey. Lonely. Sinister. Stressing. Overwhelming. Uncreative. Asocial. Unreal. Hard. Teary. Depressing (as in putting me into d*pression).
But also it taught me that, in fact, I have all I need. I’m grateful for all I have (and I have a lot), compassionate and for all I learned this year. I just need to get used to using the new skills and knowledge 😉 Soon this will be over and we will restart – yes, restart. For one, my way of looking at thing has changed and for second – the world will not be the same again. It will be better.
One of the reasons for the world becoming better is that 2020 saw so many new babies born to some of the most amazing people I know – so of course the world has instantly become better!
Stay well. You are dear.
Here, some of the prints I just made for this post. No kidding, I did. The first one is a little play – once I saw a pile of concrete chunks from the window, their flat shiny white edges were so oddly shining in the dark. I quickly drew the shapes (uneven quadrangles) and kind of expanded that aesthetics. How it is used: just flip the image upside down in your mind so that nothing is crumbling away, instead, everything is falling into its place.
The other image represents either the holy trinity – or my little family – on the way towards the light… or just some aesthetically pleasing curves.
(Please note that the prints are 1. wet 2. under construction 3. printed on the cheapest paper around and using some really basic water-based paint 4. most importantly, not done yet, missing the other colour etc. Now when I have proper tools I could also invest into proper paint – hey, look, the first resolution for 2021…)
I’m not, but many of my peers are. I’m definitely not the first one who noticed that millenials get easily (and happily?) offended at the slightest chance. Actually so much that I, a person quite resistant to trends and popular culture, noticed it and decided that I hate it and I hate my generation for it.
And then I found this article by Tatiana Baez, and was quite happy to read on the restlessness and irritability of millenials through the lens of self-criticism of the generation concerned. Yes, we Millenials are stupid and yes, we suffer from the process of disintegration of values as started by previous generations’ (oh 90’s, you shameless feast of popular postmodernity).
She identified four reasons why we get offended so much (we are bored, we are lazy, we are assholes and we are stupid – I’m too lazy to check the right order), and I agree with them and decided to add more.
5) We are hungry for attention.
6) We feel entitled to everything. To the life that is presented in the media, to trends, to goods, to looks, to attention – not just the equal opportunity of these, but for the real thing. When we feel we do not get it we like to be heard and kind of compensate – to an extent that we are happy to shame someone instead of getting our point straight without the unnecessarily weepy attitude.
7) We tend to act in the name of others. And, errr, we may not know it, or maybe we do but we do not care nevertheless, but… we may not actually be helping. Instead, those who have been actually affected by the difference, may find our actions harmful. Of course, there are groups of people who suffer daily because what makes them detach from the norm causes real, measurable harm. Those people do welcome lenience from the majority society and a space for discussion. Then we have people who are aware of their difference or their minority status or whatever makes them stand out, they would like us , but not to an extent that they would like the entire society to adopt measures for them. Or – they just don’t want their feature to be talked about in this millenial bitchy way. And then there are people who may actually like to blend in what is left of the majority society without needing for extra measures that would concern the entire public life.
So yes, please keep in different viewpoints and proofs of variation among the masses coming. I love it and I embrace it. But in the new year and years to come, let’s not be assholes. Keep and embrace the space for interpretation and for public debate.
Disclaimer: I’m not a three-fingered person so I won’t comment on that millenially flame around the film adaption of Roald Dahl’s Witches because I simply cannot relate completely to these publicly noticed cries, but I have been offended before (you, random person: no, I’m not offended for being called an immigrant or “them” or an Eastern European. I’m offended for your stupidity of thinking that all of us think/act/dress/something the same.).
P.S. Still no linocuts, instead I made a road-trip around the south of Finland today. Manflu, errands and all the things I did not have time for.
These have always been among the most favourite days of the years. These sweet, lingering moments after Christmas, all the luxuries of the Christmas without the feast’s formality, without anticipation or pressure. This freedom to enjoy and not needing to do anything (having said that, somehow I always end up working or writing during these days). Cold days, good food, snow (in lucky years; but either way, winter break has always been associated with skiing), lights and decorations, friends and peace. Reading, drinking tea, taking trips to the nearby cities. This unnaturally calm climax of the entire ye and the chance to start anew.
Other amazing days used to be those just before the start of the summer break. We were at school but we were not actually doing much, we were slowly transitioning to whatever we wanted to make out of the summer break. Or the start of the academic year (let alone a start of the whole degree) – the anticipation, lenient teachers, the feeling of starting afresh. T
Or my birthday. I’m sorry for anyone whose birthday is not in June (fine, May as well), but it is the time of the year. Still within the academic year so you are not completely unnoticed, but late enough towards the end of it when everything seems easier. And then there is the mild summer sun and first strawberry yields.
But because this year sucks, so do these days this year. They are grey, lonely, and uneventful and I’m supposedly writing a paper. Tomorrow, before writing, I will try to do some linocutting to feel at least a bit productive.
This has been among the sombrest Christmases I have ever experienced. It was not just Covid and the feeling of reality it brings about, although that definitely was a big part of it. It was not just missing my family, my safe space, although that, too, did contribute a lot. And, in fact, I’m very grateful for many things every day: I’m alive, I feel and understand things, I have a little family, I have a roof above my head and food on my table, I have a job and a lot of freedom – but at risk of sounding ungrateful, these facts just do not click together right now.
This Christmas felt like eating Finnish Christmas Food (to which I have little emotional attachment) on any autumn day (yes, autumn, as there is no snow and temperatures are only around 0°C) Sunday at in-laws. No Christmas emotions, anticipation, smells, sounds and emotions once again. I did not know this would set me back so much, but looking back at events of 2020, it is not that unsurprising that Christmas did not turn out as Christmas.
This year I did not really feel the connection to the world around me, instead, I automatically shifted focus on me and at my shortcomings in life (all of my life?) which then blocked off my productivity and creativity. The reason why I’m posting this little is that I have nothing visual to go with my verbalised thoughts, well I would not read a blog without graphic elements, it slows down scrolling so much! Anothe reason for so few pictures is that southern Finland has been now sunk in grayness and dullness (and NO, polar night does not mean grayness and darkness!) and, well, the way life is at the moment there were simply not too many opportunities to take pictures with a film camera.
Why am I writing this?
It is a reminder to myself and those who might ever read this that sometimes life sucks, it can suck and hurt in so many ways, it can feel like a short episode of super intense paralysing pain. It can feel like you are running on about 60% of your capacity, you feel less, you do less, you even think less. It can feel like a rock on your chest that never really goes. It can feel like everything is a struggle and you have to fight for all of this. It can feel like you have lost all your limbs, or that your heart has been pulled out of the chest (or stomach for what it feels). It can feel like a mild headache, kind of in the background all the time and you only realise it when you want to change your position and then *ouch*.
And that is fine. At least I hope it is fine, because I frankly see no other consolation in this. I have now seen how so many different things can go tits up in so many ways and within such a short time.
At the same time this year has seen unusually many of friends dear to me becoming parents (some even of the second child), some friends published books, some re-thought their business and adapted to the situation and I doing so great, some people developed so much – some people actually had a good year. And for the first time ever I’m not jealous of other’s achievements. I learnt to embrace it and feel happy for them, I learn to fail and embrace it, and for these, dear 2020, for these I’m thankful to you. And bless you, my dears.
Over and out, friends, this is this year’s Christmas card – note that of course I did not have the right paint/roller, because the only shop in Finland stocking these has been in total chaos the past weeks/months. So now I ended up with a stash of stencils I need to print, stash of films I wanted to shoot and a big jug of humbleness. And also a bowl of pizza dough I need to put into oven so I’m going to end this right now.